As of October 31, 2018, the Chicago City Council unanimously approved the formation of the Office for Labor Standards (OLS). The OLS has been created to provide more rigorous enforcement of the City of Chicago Employment Ordinances and to promote investigation into alleged violations. This Law will come into effect as of January 1, 2019.
Prior to the creation of the OLS, complaints of alleged violations of the City's Employment Ordinances went directly to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), which is the Department that was tasked with the enforcement of the City of Chicago Municipal Code. Because of the immense responsibilities that affected the work of the BACP, in addition to enforcement of Chicago Employment Ordinances, it was also responsible for licensing Businesses and protecting Consumers from fraud. As an example, in 2016, the BACP investigated only one (1) out of every four (4) Minimum Wage Complaints that were filed with the Department.
The OLS, which will be staffed by five (5) Employees (a Director, two (2) Investigators, a Paralegal and an Administrative Employee), will be responsible for enforcing the Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance of 2013; the Minimum Wage Ordinance of 2014, and the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance of 2017. The OLS shall function as a separate and distinct entity, and if it determines that any violation has occurred, it will be authorized to enforce the relevant Law by ordering the Employer to pay any penalties provided in the Ordinance. As well, if the Employer is found to have committed willful or repeat violations of the Illinois Wage Payment Collection Act or the Chicago Employment Ordinances, the OLS will have the authority to recommend the denial, revocation or suspension of an Employer's Business License to the Commissioner of the BACP. As well, if an Employer is found liable for violating one of the City of Chicago Employment Ordinances, there may also be a recommendation to suspend or cancel any Employer Current Contract with the City.
Obviously, as of January 1, 2019, there will be another Investigative Entity in the City of Chicago that can require an Employer to spend time and money defending itself from alleged violations. It is strongly recommended that every Business operating within the geographic limits of the City of Chicago become aware of its responsibilities under the aforementioned City Ordinances and ensure compliance with them.
Questions? Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by e-mail at [email protected].